With technologies, knowledge and events constantly advancing, consumer values and behaviors naturally shift over time as well. In order to keep pace, businesses small and large must evolve alongside their audiences if they want to ensure they don’t become irrelevant in the market.
But how can business leaders predict or discern what their customers will do or think next? Below, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council experts offer their advice on what entrepreneurs can do to keep up with customer behaviors and opinions and ensure their brands are shifting to meet changing needs.
1. Listen To Customer Feedback
In order to get and stay ahead, we must always learn about our audience and shift our way of thinking and our way of doing business to fit those changes. I strongly believe that we are only as good as the way we are able to adapt to the ever-changing world around us. We value customer feedback and take what our customers have to say to heart. This is a direct insight into how customers are thinking, which, in turn, is a pointer in the direction we should be shifting. Companies that are adapting to changes can oftentimes leverage their innovative solutions to stay ahead of the curve. - Roman Smolevskiy, A+ Construction Pro
2. Stay Updated On The Latest Social Research
Value-based media is more important than ever, and polling data indicates that this is especially true among Gen Zers. I recommend staying abreast of polling data and social research from companies such as Gallup, The Harris Poll and Pew, to find out what your core demographic audience believes in—not in order to pander to them, but to make sure they're heard. Find the values that your organization has in common with your core demographic and amplify those values in your messaging. Let it be known, unapologetically, what your company stands for. You're more likely to leave a positive and memorable impression with your audience this way. Those who you alienate will likely pale in comparison to those you attract. - Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions
3. Aim For Transparency
Transparency in brands is heavily respected and appreciated. We all know that a company that starts on day one will evolve as it goes through years of business. The company will receive feedback, gain knowledge of what's working, be more aware of its customer base and consumer needs and make changes to cater to that. Transparency allows the brand to show that it is changing and evolving and invites the consumer to be a part of the process instead of the company showing up one day with a rebrand and confusing everyone. Modern-day consumers respect brands that are transparent by allowing the consumer to take the journey with them. - Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo
4. Get Involved On Social Media
It’s tougher and tougher these days to stay on top of the shifting social trends that can impact both the public perception and ultimately bottom lines of companies. The speed of information is nearly instant now, which means the decision-making processes of public-facing companies must be equally speedy in their willingness to adapt to what’s trending. Building brand stories that resonate with the target audience comes down to listening to what the conversations are all about in their social circles. Getting involved in groups on social platforms like Facebook can make a major difference in the understanding of what your customers really want (not just what you think they want), so these tools are invaluable for any business. - Richard Fong, Bliss Drive
5. Pay Attention To Trends
Look at what the platforms are promoting and doubling down in, and then re-create your story for that form of media. Right now, for example, TikTok and Instagram Reels are huge! If the platforms are doubling down, then you know you need that style of content. By simply following the trends of what you see from platforms and consumers, you can evolve your brand story to be most relevant for that end user, even if the overarching message is the same. - Ethan Kramer, EK Creative
6. Focus On Timelessness
It all starts with having a timeless brand from the beginning. If you can, during the early days of your company, you should really reflect on where you want your brand to be five, 10 and even 20 years down the road. This type of planning isn't just good for figuring out your brand identity, but it's a compass for the direction you want to take the company in the future. A truly timeless brand will be as relevant 10 years from now as it is today, so don't get too stuck on what's trendy today when you're developing your brand. - Andy Karuza, Base64.ai
7. Perform Frequent Brand Messaging Audits
From the home page of your website, to your social media content, audit your messaging to keep users engaged and keep your content authentic. As entrepreneurs, we design our messaging once at the outset, but many of us do not craft a dynamic story with our brand values, so it needs to be audited frequently. If you are just starting out, consider drafting a dynamic brand storyline that can be easily adjusted, so you can avoid potentially embarrassing insensitivity in your messaging. Current events play a major role in buyer decisions and perceptions. If your messaging is not responding to these, you are missing out on building brand loyalty and connecting with your audience in meaningful ways. - Matthew Capala, Alphametic
8. Ask Customers Directly
For your brand to evolve with its customers, you must stay informed about what they're into currently. You can stay in tune with the latest trends to keep up with your audience's needs and interests so you can give them exactly what they want every time. You can send customer surveys, run a poll or simply ask customers on social media how to keep up with what they need. There are a lot of ways to collect this information so you can continue catering to your audience and giving them what they need. - Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
Image Credit: ravirocks010 from Pixabay
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